Catch Some New Rays Food Options
In the past we have seen a few well known favorites of the Trop come and go like the Columbia Restaurant booth near the Rotunda that went poof into the night one off season, or even the home cooking favorite, the American Plate that featured the great Southern style BBQ ribs, meatloaf, roasted chicken and either peach or apple cobblers produced in house by local Chef Enzo.
Both were truly missed when it was discovered they would not return. But in 2010, the Rays main concessionaire, Centerplate went above and beyond the call to provide some new tasty options to Rays fans.
And the first great thing Centerplate did this past off season was remember where they were located. With water caressing the shores on all three sides of Pinellas County, in the past, seafood has been mostly a fried grouper sandwich in one of the First Base concession stands, and this great fresh food option has been lost in the shuffle. But this off season the group decided that they should embrace this segment of everyday Florida life, and also provide an extra seafood treat to visiting fans who might not get the chance to sample great Florida seafood on their short visits.
But first Centerplate did something really smart, and really wise in hiring a Chef who has been called the “fish whisperer” by the New York Time, Chef David Pasternick. He has such a flair for the love of fresh seafood ingredients, Pasternick has been known to personally go out into the local New York City waters and troll for his daily fresh fish specials himself before finally preparing them for his dining patrons at his New York bistro Esca. His restaurant is known for its creativity and originality in regards to fresh products from the sea, and some critics call it a “seafood Mecca”.
So it was a bit of a seafood coup for the Centerplate big brass to get the 2004 James Beard Foundation Best Chef Award winner to step into the confines of the kitchens of Tropicana Field and submit his own signature on some of this region’s most bountiful food items. And from his brainstorming sessions, Pasternick came up with a few more fresh options for Rays fans in 2010. And he used two of his favorite regions of the United States to bring these new ingredients into the Trop’s menu offering, and none of them involve a fryer or hot oil like our old staple, the grouper sandwich.
Actually, the two new food stands that have popped up in different sections of Tropicana Field will be a well sought after alternative to the usual ballpark food, and ones I will definitely hit within the first week of games this season. The first will be located about 30 paces down the stairs from my current Season Ticket seats just in the Rightfield Street section of Tropicana Field, just to your left if you enter at the Rotunda/Gate 1 entrance and then follow the smell of great cooking fish and spicy sausages.
You will then quickly notice the new sign for Ti (Cajun for little) Dave’s Po’ Boys which grew out of Chef Pasternick’s extreme love and admiration for the cultural foods of the New Orleans region of the country. Here you can sample two distinctive designed Po’ Boy sandwiches were are a common staple of living in New Orleans, with a added flair of Chef Pasternick’s bold use of flavors to kick your taste buds into third gear.
The stand will offer both a marinated and grilled shrimp sandwich as well as an artisan andouille sausage concoction. Both will also be topped with a zesty slaw and a specially spicy Creole mustard and both will be served on a traditional French baquette.And if those two items did not get your mouth watering, Ti Dave’s will also offer his version of Dave’s famous Cajun Fries, which will be French fries served extra crispy with a special Cajun country blend of herb and spices. Some people might say this stand’s fries will make most people forget about the 2009 fan favorite the garlic fries, and will become one of the “must have” items in 2010 when attending a Rays game.
And that is one of the important reasons to bring someone of Chef Pasternick’s expertise to Tropicana Field. To get you to try something different and exciting while also watching the same excitement on the playing field this season.
As an added bonus at both booth will be a localized adult beverage selection that was tailored to the regional menu of both locations. Ti Dave’s Po’ Boys will feature Louisiana’s own Abita beer, which is brewed in a local brewery about 30 miles north of New Orleans. The first bottle of this craft beer left the brewery in 1986 and has become an instant favorite with beer collectors. The second new beer selection also shared a nickname with Rays First Baseman Carlos Pena, as El Presidente beer will make its entry into Tropicana Field and be offered exclusively at the Fresco Fish Taco stand. El Presidente, which is brewed in the Dominican Republic has been a favorite resort beverage for vacationers to the Caribbean nation.
But that is not the only new beverage options to enter Tropicana Field. In 2010,Centerplate will also open several wine bars around the stadium to bring another beverage option to the adults attending Rays games. These are only two of the first options and swaps going on within Tropicana Field this season. You can look forward to more changes and upgrades to both the menu offerings and choices within the stadium in the near future. With the food industry leaning towards more health conscious items and fresh ingredients, the Rays and Centerplate will work in harmony to also provide these options to patron of the Rays soon.
So there you go. A few new food options you might consider tonight before the last Spring Training game against the New York Mets, or maybe even on Tuesday night when the Rays officially open their 2010 season against the Baltimore Orioles. Two distinctively different options that have not been available before in Tropicana Field, and ones that are sure to become very popular in 2010.
I know I my mouth is already watering in anticipation of getting either a shrimp or andouille sausage baquette tonight while I sit in my seats. Maybe I might even wash them down with some besides Dr Pepper for a change…..Now that is the ticket to a true food experience, plus the added spice of great baseball played in front of me by our Rays.